Such was the scale of the debacle of the Bangladesh team's capitulating to 43 all out in the first session of the first Test against West Indies on Wednesday that the World Cup fever took a back seat for a day and cricket dominated headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Former Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Saber Hossain Chowdhury, under whose leadership Bangladesh were awarded Test status in 2000, reacted strongly on Twitter and, replying to another user's comment, called for the resignation of the current BCB president and 'his cronies' in the board, which he said had become a business syndicate.
“Yes, he [BCB boss Nazmul Hassan] along with his cronies @BCBtigers Board must accept responsibility and resign,” Saber wrote in reply to a fan calling for the resignation of Hassan and suggesting that Saber reclaim his former role.
“More than an individual, BCB needs to be rebuilt as an institution that is transparent with hi standards of governance and not be the biz syndicate it has become,” Saber continued in his reply.
Saber, then in Geneva, was writing roughly before teatime in Antigua after Bangladesh were ripped apart for their lowest ever total of 43 -- the joint 10th-lowest ever Test score -- and West Indies had cruised largely untroubled past the paltry total.
In a post at around 12:00am Bangladesh time (8:00pm in Geneva on Wednesday), Saber called out the BCB boss by name.
“After hitting bottom against AFG in T20I, @BCBtigers now hit deepest bottom in Test #WIvsBAN -- 43 all out is its lowest total, 2nd lowest ever [in the last 44 years] in Test history. We are embarrassed, ashamed. What is going on @BCBtigers? Enough is enough but does Mr. Papon think so??”
He was referring to Bangladesh's humbling 3-0 loss in a T20I series against newcomers Afghanistan in Dehradun in June. In fact, Bangladesh's string of poor results goes back further. Other than reaching the T20I Nidahas Trophy final in March, their last spell of success was reaching the Champions Trophy semifinals in June last year and then drawing a home Test series against Australia. Since then, they embarked on a punishing tour of South Africa where they did not compete in any of the two Tests, three ODIs and two T20Is. The fallout from the tour was that then coach Chandika Hathurusingha resigned in November with around two years left on his contract, and Hassan had come in for criticism because of the unprecedented leeway allowed to the coach and also momentarily blaming the players for the departure.
Then followed a period of seven months without a coach before Steve Rhodes was appointed at the eleventh hour before the tour of West Indies and took charge of team practice less than a week before they departed for Antigua. In the intervening period Bangladesh lost a home tri-series final to Sri Lanka before losing a two-Test series 1-0 and a two-T20I series 2-0 against the same opponents.
“Why did it take so long to find the coach? Why is making money more important for some Board Members? Why is there so much corruption, wrong doing @BCBtigers?” fumed Saber in the reply thread of his original tweet.
While he did not articulate what he meant by 'corruption' and 'wrongdoing', examples of these are hardly difficult to find in Bangladesh cricket. Allegations and instances of biased umpiring are rife not just in lower level cricket but also in the Dhaka Premier League, with last season's champions Abahani having to contend with allegations of favouritism because of the stakes board high-ups hold in the club.
After the loss in the Afghanistan series, Saber had called out Hassan's well-documented tendency to blame the players after bad results.
“Always easy to pass the buck and blame others - @BCBtigers President himself is of course above accountability!!” Saber tweeted on June 7, posting an ESPNCricinfo article in which Hassan was quoted as saying that the team were suffering from the lack of an authority figure in the absence of a coach, and then implying that it was his presence during the Nidahas Trophy that had made the difference. Yet it was Hassan who repeatedly set deadlines for appointing a coach and then deferred them.
“Absolutely, but this introspection only comes when one is sincere and respects accountability. I very regretfully do not see either in the current set up of @BCBtigers,” Saber tweeted yesterday in reply to a user who demanded that it was time for reflection.